Every Wednesday, I focus on a character from adventure fiction (film, comics & prose) that I simply adore. This week we’re talking about: Nightwing. This character’s real identity is Dick Grayson, who is probably better known as the former Robin, The Boy Wonder. What I really liked about Nightwing was that he fulfilled a lot of comic book fans’ fantasies — he was a sidekick who grew up and became an adult hero. Because of the way time usually works in comics, we rarely see true change or growth from the characters. But with Dick Grayson, we saw him as a kid, then as a teenager and finally as an adult. Along the way, he became leader of his own team (the Titans) and eventually dropped the Robin identity to become his own hero — heck, he even spent a significant amount of time as Batman, filling in for his mentor on a couple of occasions. During one of those, he even led the Justice League of America (during James Robinson’s run on the title).
Nightwing’s solo title has had its ups and downs but I’ve enjoyed the majority of it. A lot of talented people have worked on the character over the years, most notably Marv Wolfman, George Perez, Chuck Dixon, Scott McDaniel, Greg Land and Kyle Higgins. In the New 52 continuity, Nightwing has been shaken up a bit — apparently, he was never involved with The Titans and his romance with Starfire is unclear in terms of whether or not it actually happened. But the core of the character and the wish fulfillment factor is still there. Like the other sidekicks-turned-adults (like Wally West and Donna Troy), this character has a lot of hardcore fans who feel like they grew up with them. This increases the emotional connection and in Dick’s case, his diehard fans are called Wingnuts.
Nightwing is also considered one of the ‘sexiest’ male heroes — you can find more beefcake shots of the character in the comics and on the internet than is usual for a mainstream superhero. I’m not sure if it dates back to his short pants days or the fact that he’s generally depicted in a sleek, skintight suit of spandex (he’s an acrobat, you know).
Anyway, Nightwing is a longtime fave of mine. For me, it was really the debut of The New Teen Titans that made me into a major fan. I loved seeing Robin leading his own team and taking flight away from his mentor. And when he became Nightwing in the classic storyline “The Judas Contract,” they had me for life. DC has periodically threatened to kill off the character (most notably during Infinite Crisis) but even if they did, it wouldn’t stick. Dick Grayson is too important to the fabric of their universe.